African American women are at increased risk for cardiometabolic diseases ~ conditions for which risk is reduced by regular physical activity. Unfortunately, they are also one of the least physically active population subgroups. Community settings are attractive places to conduct physical activity interventions because they reach people in comfortable surroundings. No trial has investigated conducting a physical activity intervention in beauty salons that cater to African American women, although this is a setting in which women regularly visit and a place that reinforces core cultural values. This trial will test the effects of a 4- month, culturally-sensitive social ecological intervention emphasizing social support, conducted in beauty salons, for increasing moderate to vigorous physical activity level in African American women compared with a comparison condition. Moderate to vigorous physical activity, measured from Actigraph accelerometers worn over 7 consecutive days, will be assessed at baseline and post-intervention. Weight, blood pressure, and selected psychosocial mediators will also be assessed. Generally healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 60 years will be recruited from beauty salons and barbershops in which they frequent. 16 salons (25 women per salon) will be randomized into a physical activity intervention or comparison intervention. The intervention will be conducted in the salons and incorporate core cultural values of African American women. It will enhance social support, physical activity behavioral skills, and create a normative environment for physical activity within the salons. The comparison intervention will focus on life affirmation and personal growth through a book club. Results will be analyzed using 2-stage hierarchical linear modeling. The trial will determine if culturally grounded interventions, focusing on social support among existing social networks, delivered in salons, can increase physical activity in African American women. This study will contribute to the evidence base of third generation health disparities research by testing a culturally sensitive physical activity intervention delivered in a community setting.

Public Health Relevance

It is critical to identify and rigorously test interventions for effectiveness in increasing physical activity among African American women, who are at disproportionate cardiometabolic risk. Community settings are feasible venues, but have been insufficiently evaluated using randomized, controlled trials. We will test a physical activity intervention set in beauty salons that, if effective, may be generalizable to other commmunities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
Exploratory Grants (P20)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMD1-MLS)
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University of Maryland College Park
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